Group says Amerock building could spark major downtown development
By Jim Hagerty
The group Friends of Ziock (FOZ) celebrated at the Prairie Street Brewhouse Thursday, after the building it has been championing to save was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.
For more than a year, FOZ has been rallying to save the Ziock building at 416 S. Main St. The city-owned structure was recently up for possible demolition before Friends of Ziock began efforts to make it a flagship for downtown redevelopment.
With the building’s future unknown, FOZ spokesmen say demolishing the 250,000-square-foot property would be nothing short of unwise.
“Tough projects like this that take lots of hard work and digging can yield awesomely rewarding moments,” FOZ spokesman Don Bissell said. “One such moment came when we began to recognize patterns in property value data points. Suddenly, it became clear what really is scuttling private development downtown. When that happened, the scope of our work was no longer just a single building. The scope is literally fighting for the life of our city.”
Commonly referred to as the Amerock building, the Ziock structure has been vacant since the 1980s, after 60 years of housing manufacturing and textile companies. Since 1995, a host of developers–to no avail—has attempted to redevelop the structure. Each has been hampered by poor planning and economic woes.
Enter 2010 and a new era of opportunity in the slow-going of downtown Rockford redevelopment. Officials hope state and federal subsidies could make the Ziock building an attractive carrot for developers.
The Illinois Historic Tax Credit, which could provide a willing developer more than 45 percent in tax relief, changes a game that, for more than a decade, ended before it even began.
“The tax credit is a game-changer,” Bissell said. “There’s quite a bit of opportunities there. The city owns the building and we will help market it for many possible things. That could be Embry-Riddle residences and classrooms; and we just discovered that downtown could absorb about 60 hotel rooms.”
The historic tax credit, sparked by Senate Bill 2168 (S.B. 2168), creates the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit for the costs and expenses of rehabbing and renovating eligible properties.
The Rockford landmark, named the Ziock Building in honor of textile pioneer William H. Ziock, was built in three phases between 1912 and 1950 by the Ziock family and the Amerock Corporation.
The building initially housed titans of two industries that helped fuel the industrial growth of Rockford: textiles and hardware. Today, the complex is commonly known as the Amerock Building because of its last major tenant and owner.
Meantime, the City of Rockford is negotiating an agreement with the Illinois Preservation Agency, which could allow for the Ziock building to be demolished if developers don’t come forward.
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